Like sailors who can feel a storm brewing on a calm day, most consultants can sense a train wreck pending in an ITIL change control meeting. This article discusses a proactive communications best practice for avoiding or reducing the odds of contentious meetings after the fact.
On June 8th and 9th, 2016 I hosted two webinars about estimation at Professional Services Firms. My favorite question from a viewer was, “how do you organize your data for Monte Carlo simulations of duration?”
A significant portion of new business for small professional services firms comes through referrals. How many times have you as an individual consultant or professional services manager let an email sit in your inbox for a day or two, from a frustrated client? Alternatively, chose to let their phone call ring through to voicemail rather than answering? Or they gave up in a convoluted IVR system that your operations manager recommended as a 'cost savings measure'? Moreover, what is the reputational risk to your business when that disaffected client becomes a 'Detractor' on the Net Promoter Score spectrum?
This was one of my favorite questions from a viewer during my April webinars about scheduling professional services projects. I shared a very simple skill and resource availability matrix with the attendees, which is what prompted the question.
Here's how to make sure you're not pranking your CFO on April Fool's Day. You can reliably forecast your consulting revenue for the coming quarter by following these easy steps.
If you want to open a new professional services business, you'll need to know about the quote to cash process, scheduling an engagement, creating and negotiating a Statement of Work, creating reliable estimates, strategic portfolio management, how to manage and motivate consultants, and how to report and influence Key Performance Indicators for the health of your business.
Many small Professional Services Organizations (PSO) get started with Excel because it looks like a perfectly fine accounting system. However, the problems of using it instead of a good PSA quickly come clear as soon as there’s a second person who needs to use it.
Twice a year, I produce a short training module for our sales teams to learn how to sell professional services. You may think that developing this sort of training module is unnecessary at a software company, or that selling consulting services are the same as selling products and subscriptions. However, for certain businesses, there is a definite need for this kind of training. This is an easy win to improve your sales processes and reduce the potential tension between sales and consulting.
This week, I held two evening webinars on managing professional services firms. We brought together consultants, directors, and vice presidents from the east and west coasts to learn about the best practices for managing a worldwide consulting firm. My personal thanks if you were able to attend. On March 2nd and 3rd, we’ll be continuing our conversation and discussing the Quote to Cash process.
After eighteen months of this experiment, our preliminary finding has been that using NPS as a KPI has substantial value for an embedded experience or expertise-based PSO. Personnel reviews are simpler and include the direct voice of the client. Consultants also understand the evaluation criteria, and we developed a standard set of NPS goals for individual contributors.
Last night, I gave a presentation on the quote to cash process at the IEEE Consultants Network in Vancouver, Canada. My favorite audience question was, “how would you recommend a firm start encouraging our professional services managers to look under the couch cushions?”
“Going under the couch cushions” is my semi-joking name for a strategic backlog review. I have children, and there are only two things I find under my couch cushions: spare change, and messes that need cleaning up.
In professional services, the spare change you find in the backlog comes from those customers with an odd number of hours left and an open Statement of Work
Many times they only have a vague sense of what is in the Statement of Work. After all, the Statement of Work is a contract. And contracts must be for attorneys, not project managers, and certainly not for technical staff.
Very efficient sales teams use the availability of senior consultants to drive deals to closure. As part of the sales cycle, they ask the client the date of when the project must be finished. You should subtract the project duration, and then another four to six weeks. The resulting date is when the client must complete their purchase without risking their schedule.
Trust is easy to understand. From a client's perspective, once they've had enough bad experiences with professional services organizations, they will mistakenly assume that all professional services firms work the same way. As a result, they stop trusting all professional services organizations.